Devils dealing with injuries as they fight for playoff spot
Considering the Devils’ battle with injuries in their 2013-14 campaign, it’s not a surprise this group is shorthanded in what may be their final days together this season.
The Devils entered Monday night’s game against the Flames without the services of Bryce Salvador, Ryane Clowe, Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique and Jacob Josefson because of injury. All are listed as day-to-day.
“Anyone who wasn’t out on the ice this morning is not available,” head coach Pete DeBoer said following the morning skate at the Prudential Center. “It is what it is. Everybody deals with it. We just have to show up and play.”
There is no optimal time for an athlete to be out, but the current rash occurs as the Devils are three points out of the last playoff spot in the East with four games to play.
“Those are key guys [for] us,” Travis Zajac said.
Local boy made good
Monday night’s game was a homecoming for Flames rookie left wing Kenny Agostino, who grew up in Morris County, N.J.
“It’s going to be a cool experience,” said Agostino, who grew up a Ranger fans in the heart of Devils Country. “It’s a building I’ve seen a lot of games in so it’s going to be fun.”
Calgary acquired Agostino, right wing Ben Hankowski and a 2013 first-round pick for Jarome Iginla in a blockbuster trade with Pittsburgh on March 27, 2013. Agostino played the remainder of the 2013 campaign and all of this past season with Yale University. Because he signed with the Flames after the trade deadline, Agostino is not eligible to be sent to AHL Abbotsford even after Calgary’s season ends.
“I think he’s adapting well, just like [right wing] Ben Hanowski last year and [left wing] Bryce Van Brabant,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “Based on our situation, we can put them in all kinds of situations and see how they feel. The most important thing of what we do is that we give them an opportunity to build a gauge, so that they can compare themselves to college and compare themselves to the NHL level, and go back home in the summer and say, ‘I need to work on this. I need to work on … any parts of their game that they feel that is not NHL-ready yet.’ But if we don’t play them they will get in the summer thinking that the NHL is just next door, it’s going to be an easy step, which [it] is not.”
Around the league …
» The NHL announced Monday afternoon Oilers left wing Taylor Hall, Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov and Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty were named the three stars of the week. The league also announced its “Central Scouting Bureau’s final rankings” for the 2014 Entry Draft will be released Tuesday at 11 a.m. The draft is scheduled for June 27-28 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.
» Tampa Bay announced general manager Steve Yzerman agreed to a four-year extension. The Lightning also announced CEO Steve Griggs was promoted to President of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
“Organizationally, we remain committed to playing at the highest levels each season — regularly competing for the Stanley Cup — and I am very pleased that Steve has elected to be our leader for the next several years,” owner Jeff Vinik said in a statement.
» DeBoer compared the race for the final two East playoff spots to a car crash.
“You don’t want to look,” DeBoer said. “But you have no choice.”
» DeBoer praised outgoing Hockey Canada president and CEO Bob Nicholson following the morning skate.
“Bob played a huge role in my development as a coach,” said DeBoer, who coached the Canadian gold-medal winning junior team in 2005 and was an assistant on the 2010 Canadian team that participated in the World Championships. “I just think he’s done a phenomenal job there in building that program and that brand. I’m sure he’s on to bigger and better things.”
Follow NHL writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.